Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Cat, the Tuna Tam-o-Shanter

O Hai! I can has blog post?

Let me introduce to to you our very own Kvetch is the New Blog lolcat.

That's Twinkie. When he is snoozing. On a chair. DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS. PLOTTING MY DOOM.

What does he do at night? Oh, the usual. You know, become a 15-pound, tuna-scented tam-o-shanter. Yes. This involves first stomping around in circles on Queen Dweeb's cheek. Then purring loudly whilst doing the high step. On HER HEAD. Then chattering away with said TOOONA BREATH. Preferrably about one centimeter from her olfactory glands.

Have you had the pleasure of HOT TOOONA BREATH at 2 AM? Let me tell you. Is a pleasure.

After the chirping, circling and high stepping is complete, the settling in occurs. A nice, hot 15 pound dead weight, reeking of the fetid sea, wrapped comfortably around one's skull.
This too can be yours each night.

Oh, and don't dare suggest that he get locked out of the room. He RIPS THE CARPET completely up, crying piteously the entire time. When that is a FAIL, he shakes the door with his mighty LARD.

Needless to say, sleep is at a premium here.
Can someone find me a chipmunk to toss to him please?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On Stinky Beds, and Getting What You Wish For

This post was initially written Sunday evening.  I didn't finish it then, for reasons which will be explained later.  I thought about deleting it, but I kind of like it.  So you get it anyway:


I have a couple of hours until the Redskins game, and I'm bored.  I'm watching another football game, but it's 8-7 in the third quarter.  You know how most people can't stand baseball because nothing happens?  Well, this is one of those games.  And I don't really care about either team.  So I thought, maybe I'll blog!  I haven't blogged in a while!  Blog is a funny word!

But, something's wrong.  I can't come up with anything significant enough to kvetch about.  I went through all my old standards- people suck, drivers suck, your mom sucks- but nothing doing.  So I was about to give up, and just watch football (men everywhere are saying YES!  Watching football is GREAT!- and normally, I'd agree with them), but then I thought of something!  Here's my big kvetch!:

My bed stinks!

Really, what's worse than a stinky bed?  You want to be all cozy and warm, and instead your olfactory system revolts.  The cozy has been superseded by narsty.  You get used to it and finally fall asleep, but then a weird dream shakes you awake.  Suddenly, on top of the Sarah-Palin-as-Treasury-Secretary nightmare you were just having, your nose crinkles with the return of the narsty.  Not fun.

So why is our bed stinky, you ask?  Did someone have an "accident"?  Did I yak during the aformentioned Palin-mare?  Did someone "move my cheese" into the bedroom, and forget about it?  (As an aside, isn't that the most asinine name for a book?  "Who Moved My Cheese?  Really?  And why did my mom think that I'd like it as a Christmas gift?)  

No, yesterday we bought a "memory-foam" mattress topper, in hopes of relieving my not-serious-but-highly-annoying back pain.  Though excited by the newfound squishiness of the bed, we were not expecting the septum-eroding odor of plastic that came with it.  Fortunately, it was warm enough to leave the windows open, to let it air out.  It was a smelly night, but I did sleep pretty well.  So the stink remains on our old crappy mattress, like a mountain guru- wise and mighty atop the highest peak, but with a notable stench.    


So that's about where I finished my post.  I was about to edit, when my cell phone rang.  My good friend who lives nearby was in my driveway- with a flat tire.  He had been returning to his home from our mutual favorite pizza place when he hit a curb.  Fortunately, we were close, so he and his wife came over.  YAY!  Boredom averted!  We were sorry that they had a flat tire, but they have free roadside assistance, so why don't they just hang out and watch the Redskins game with us?  Great!  Uhhh.... wait.  Oh, shit.  He's a Dallas fan.  

We're good people, though.  We accept our differences, and appreciate them, and watched the game respectfully.  We even gave him a beer- with a Redskins coozie.  Take that!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'll say it.


For the first time in a long time, I am (even cautiously) optimistic about our nation's future. Now we all have to support our new president elect, and make sure that he (and ourselves as a nation) deliver on the promise that we have. It'll be a hard road for the near future, but can we get there?

Yes we can.

Now everyone chill out, be nice to your McCain-supporting neighbors, mend some fences, and have some fun. Because starting soon, we've all got work to do.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


So someone stole the Obama sign from our yard.  We want to put up something snarky in return.  So far all we've come up with is:

"OBAMA!  He wouldn't steal YOUR sign."

But we're looking for something better.  You guys are funny.  Help!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Davids Bridal: The Inner Circle of Hell

Let's start this post out with a shout out to Undercover Nerd, who was married yesterday.

On that note, let's continue with the REAL point of this post, the bitter discontent with all things wedding-related, especially David's Bridal. As Undercover Nerd will be the first to point out, the entire wedding industry is run on a campaign of terror. Your dress? WILL NOT FIT. It also WILL NOT ARRIVE ON TIME. All orders must be placed roughly six months ahead of the wedding. Which is where our story begins.

Our lovely U.N. had selected yours truly to be one of her bridesmaids. Yes, so she could have someone to stand at the alter and COMPLAIN BITTERLY about everything. You know, because it makes the ceremony that much better. Anyhow, along with yours truly, there were three other bridesmaids, including the maid of honor. All of whom possess an inordinate amount of cleavage. One of which chose to sew a MODESTY PANEL into her dress, because, unlike the rest of us, she is TASTEFUL.

So off we troop to the bridal barn, to find a dress. With straps, that does not make us look like a sausage in the casing. For U.N., you see, did not want to be surrounded by a troop of Jimmy Dean breakfast links at her nuptuals, no. She wanted attractive, non-whiny maids to attend her. Perhaps she knew we would refuse to be her minions of bridal doom for the next few months otherwise. Easy enough, no?

Well, perhaps it would have been save for our attendant, who opted to not bring us any dresses, so U.N. and yours truly had to troop all over the store searching for dresses, which were loudly (by yours truly) being declared "FUGLY". At which point, a code word was needed. Lest we offend the blissful bethrothed in the store, who were looking shocked at my lack of love of the lace! and the frills! and the FUGLY! Good god! Did I mention the hideous, burning ugliness of some of those dresses? MY RETINA ARE BURNED?

The code word? BUCKET. Like that will fool them. Yes, the BUCKET dresses were left behind forlornly on the racks, and armloads of dresses were dragged back into the room. The attendant finally decided to help by bringing us STRAPLESS DRESSES. For a bunch of girls that could give Hooters a run for the money if they so chose.

In a flurry of chiffon and satin, lace and taffeta, dresses were yanked on & off, photos were taken, laughing ensued. Dresses were pronounced "too Golden Girls" or "Dag that makes you look like a Jimmy Dean" until the final contenders were selected for round TWO. Yes. Round two. Now with more 'maids!

Yours truly is hazy on the details, but is actually thinking there was one more stop in there, whereby she had to try on dresses again. Because there was. And this was the first stop on the incredible shrinking bridesmaid scale, which horrified the bridal barn.

You thought one of us was bad? Try all of us at once. And at this point, as yours truly had started to shed the lard from the horomone, I was already the wrong size. The lame attendant refused to admit, that holla! I might not be that size 10 or an 8 anymore, and I had to go find the 6 myself. Awesome. Then the dresses were all rejected summarily as BUCKET. The maid of honor needed a DIFFERENT DRESS. The bride had to find all of them herself for, lo, we were huffy at EVEN BEING IN A BRIDAL SHOP. Except for the one of us that's classy. With the modesty panel. She was good about everything. The rest of us? Not so much. With the snarking and the mocking and the getting the dagger-eyes from the brides who CAN'T BELIEVE that we're not all blissed out about a bridal barn in a STRIP MALL ON ROCKVILLE PIKE! THE NERVE.

Finally, the dresses are selected, BUCKET-FREE. We troop out, only one of us actually ordering the dress, with threats of death from the shop, because GOOD GOD, the WEDDING, it's ONLY THREE MONTHS AWAY. The dress that's ordered arrives three days later.

After many weeks go by, the bride to be reminds yours truly that the dress likely should be ordered, that the bridal barn had been harassing her daily because, the HELL? A BRIDESMAID HAS NOT ORDERED A DRESS AND THE WEDDING IS A MONTH AWAY.

So, back to David's Bridal, for lo, none of Queen Dweeb's clothes are fitting. Time for ANOTHER TREK UP THE PIKE! WOOT. Now with more burrito, because a burrito will make that dress fit MUCH BETTER. Back into the store, where the staff looks surprised to see me, and asks why I'm there (yeah, apparently little miss sunshine is their favorite customer in all the land, bick shock!). To try on the dress, Einstein.

Of course, my attendant? Nowhere to be found. Also nowhere to be found? A size 2. So the size 4 is nabbed, and put on. And it is MASSIVE. So then yours truly get to be the asshat that comes out and loudly demands: "DO YOU HAVE THIS IN A SIZE TWO? THIS FOUR IS FAR TOO LARGE. LOOK AT IT. HUGE."

It worked. They looked, dress was falling off of me, I was whisked back to alterations as guess what? NO SIZE TWOS to try on. And here's the best answer ever: order the four because the dress you order is ONE to ONE and ONE HALF INCHES SMALLER THAN THE ONE YOU TRY ON. Huh? Really? Because I try things on so that they fit. What is the purpose of having dresses that are bigger than what you order, pray tell? Seriously.

So yes, David's Bridal=the inner circle of hell.

Oh, and when my order was placed, this is what the chart looked like: everyone else's name and size, neatly arranged. Queen Dweeb. 10?8?6?4? ???????????


Apparently, weight loss makes David's Bridal's head explode.

Oh, and yours truly was told when placing the order three weeks ahead of the wedding that the dress would arrive on the 12th, the day after the wedding. It arrived 5 days after the order was placed, of course. Fear mongers, they are.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In which I complain, and make cheap homonymic jokes

A few days ago, my wife told me one of the most annoying things that we, as homeowners could hear. "Optimisticalcynical*," she said "There's a puddle on the floor, and a bulging in the ceiling above it." And it was not raining, which means that there's an internal water leak, which means it is time for a plumber.

*Note, not my real name

I am, to put it plainly, not Bob Vila. I'm not dumb, I am just not able to do much around the house without instructions. I am capable of basic home repair, but I am not screwing with the pipes. However, using our collective intelligence, my wife and I ascertained that the leak was probably coming from the vicinity of our upstairs shower/tub. So, we resigned ourselves to the use of the downstairs shower, with the bracing semi-nude runs from the cold, cold ground floor that such showers entail. So, we didn't make it worse.

We have a home warranty, which is basically gambling that more stuff will go wrong with the house each year than we would be willing to pay out of pocket. The upside of this is that I get relatively cool through potentially expensive projects like this. I know that I will just pay the deductible, which is usually a good deal, and has already been used to procure a brand-new garbage disposal. The deductible is a not-insignificant $75, but what can you do. It's good when they solve the problem.

So I call. The insurance refers me to one of their plumbers. Also fine. Smooth sailing. The very nice gentleman informs me that he would come out that day, from 12 until 5. I did happen to be at work, and needed to stay there until 8, but you know. So, I made an appointment with him in the next day (yesterday), in the narrowest window he would allow. This still happened to be 12-3, insuring that I would likely miss a full day of work waiting for this guy. But, at least a professional will come and fully sort out my problem, making the necessary repairs, right? Right? Anyone there?

So, I wait. I do some dishes, I do whatever work I can from home. I sit and watch Idiocracy, knowing that I cannot go anywhere or do anything except stay inside until this guy shows up. At 2:00, the plumber rings my doorbell. He comes in, looks at the ceiling, at the pipes (there's an access panel) and at the tub. Thus far, I have waited from the time I got up at 7:00 until this very moment. This visit is now the focus of my incredibly wasted day. This is the moment I have been waiting seven hours for. He tells me that the seal between my shower and the tub underneath it is a little loose, and that caused my leak. A very small leak. Yay. The moisture will dry out if I leave the access panel open for a few days, and that the leak can be fixed with caulk. Yay! A simple fix. "So, can you caulk it right now?"

The guy informs me that THEY...DON'T...DO...CAULK. I'm sorry...I was under the fucking impression that they were plumbers. And that caulk, or, as it is sometimes known, plumber's caulk, was a basic tool of plumbing. Used by plumbers. While they are plumbing things. Which is what plumbers do. So, he writes me up a bill, tells me to leave the panel open, and tells me to caulk the places where he showed me the water was coming in. He asks for the check for the deductible, He says "Thanks! this was my easiest call of the day!" and then he shakes my hand and leaves at approximately 2:10 pm. He was a nice guy, a pleasant guy, and unquestionably a competent one. However, is it wrong to hope that his next job involves some sort of sewage flood? Breaking it down...

This was a 10 minute visit. this means that I paid him $7.50 per minute to squint at my pipes, point out the problem, and then tell me I have to fix it myself. This also means that my waiting time, from the time I woke up, was approximately 42 times longer than the time that he was actually there. And, he did not actually do a basic plumbing repair that he could have done in 30 minutes. Was he out of caulk? I would have bought him caulk. And donuts. And perhaps a hooker. Why? Because I now know that caulk sucks.

I know this, because I then took it upon myself to caulk the offending tub. I had to go out to where people were selling caulk, then I had to pick the caulk I wanted. Knowing my propensity for messing up, I got a big tube, so I would have caulk left over if I needed it later.

Then, I went to caulk the tub. Caulk applies pretty easily, sort of like cake icing, except more viscous and gross. Also, you can't waterproof a bathroom with icing. I've tried. Delicious, yummy failure. So, I got down on my knees in the tub, and started working the caulk. I put the caulk into every crevice I could find. The caulk goes on white, but dries clear. This is a problem, as we will see later. So, needless to say, I squeezed the caulk in, and it went all over my hands. I managed to clean the tiles, so that the caulk only went where I wanted it to go. Sometimes, caulk can be hard to control. Since caulk gives off fumes, I did the tub in stages. Or, the caulk would have made me light headed. It's hard to deal with a lot of caulk at once. So finally, after a couple of hours (involving smoothing, correcting mistakes, and re-caulking) , I finished off all of the caulking. I am no Bob Vila, but I think I did okay working with caulk.

Then, I went to wash my hands. Oddly enough, there are some problems in trying to get a clear, waterproof substance off of your hands with soap and water. It was as if I had dipped my hands in a less delicious version of library paste. I went out to dinner with the Wife and one of her friends later that night, and the clear caulk was still peeling off parts of my fingertips. I looked as if I had had some horrible disease, or a really bad sunburn. Of course, I do now have soft skin on my fingers. Is it true that caulk and its byproducts are good for yor skin?

The thing that really pisses me off is not the fact that I basically gave a guy $75 to tell me where a leak was, and then leave without providing any actual plumbing services. It's not that this makes me feel like I was cheated out of a caulking job that they guy just didn't want to do, meaning that I am some sort of a caulk sucker. It's not that I had to burn an entire day off waiting for this guy to tell me where the leak is. It's not that I had to make the repairs myself, when I basically have this insurance to make sure that a professional does those sorts of jobs.

It's that I still can't use my upstairs shower yet. Why? The caulk I used needs a day to solidify and cure before it is waterproof. That's right, I have to wait 24 hours until my caulk is hard enough to use.

"Thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I am as smart as a bucket. . .

Do you ever forget things? Like possibly where you put your keys? Or how to figure out a percentage without using a calculator? But perhaps you can remember where the Regal Begal was and that the older brother in Goonies was named Brand? And possibly lyrics to entire Debbie Gibson songs? Yes? Or is it just me that can't remember anything useful or practical or helpful (but oh, how entertaining)? I started thinking that possibly I should embark on some higher education so my brain doesn't atrophy completely and I end up voting for McCain just because his VP is a woman and I think that all women are interchangeable.

Anway, yesterday morning, in a response to an e-mail regarding higher education in general, I mentioned that I got a Phi Beta Kappa Key in college. And someone else didn't know what it was, so in order not to sound like a total dumbass, I looked up some information about it. And 'lo! I am special and possibly smart and even good at school and it's an honor, people. Did you know that? An honor! So I started thinking "Wow, I'm all sorts of awesome. I will start reading the Economist and do other smart things!" And generally was feeling kind of good about myself. Maybe I should use my brain for more than useless television knowledge

Then I went to Montgomery College to inquire about some more educating that I need for my nonsmart job and possibly to change careers to a more smart job. And still on the high of my aforementioned thinking that I am all awesome, the counselor looked up my records at MC. She casually mentioned that I don't have to take some computer classes because I already took them. Which I have absolutely no recollection of. None. At. All. So apparently I have taken two entire classes and completely erased them from my memory. Gone. Completely.

I ponder how I can possibly have senile dementia already and what I could have learned in these computer classes and when did I take these classes anyway? Then the counselor finds some more records of classes that I apparently enrolled in and never attended. In 1999. And did I withdraw from them when I didn't go? Not so much. So I have a 0.00 at Montgomery College. That's my GPA. A 0.00. I am so not smart.

I try to show her that after that I went on to college and did some smart things and possibly wasn't a deadbeat. I passed classes and even got A's - some with pluses! And did I mention that maybe I got a Phi Beta Kappa? And look here! I took Calculus for Engineers! For fun! My nerdery knows no bounds! But she was still shaking her head sadly and looking at me like the deadbeat that apparently I am.

So she gives me my options. I can take enough classes to average out to a 2.5 GPA (which would be a lot of classes), or I could file an appeal. This morning I look at the appeal form and they need an explanation and supporting documentation for my failure to withdraw. Supporting documentation? I really couldn't tell you what that would be. Possibly will direct them to the Regal Begal. Or something. Crap. Anyone have any ideas for the 30,000 classes I will have to take to get my GPA up? Possibly History of Television? Or could I teach one on how not to think you are all smart because someone will come along and smack you in the face with your dumbassery?

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Kvetch-ful Monday

What do I have to bitch about?  Let's see what I can come up with off the top of my head:

-  The financial world is ending (ok, too easy)

- People are racist bastards (but fortunately, they're also morons):

- The Redskins best pass-rusher won't play against Dallas because someone kicked him.  Wah.

- Sharon busted her ass to apply for a new job, and the POCs have gone MIA.  PDQ.  

- Our backyard is a jungle.  And weeding sucks.

- We have three types of unwanted grass (zoysia, bermuda, and... errr... crab) in our yard.  Well, in those rare places where grass actually grows.  Plus, two plant fungi.  

- A woodpecker is enjoying the bounty of our front columns.

- Air duct cleaners pulled a dust dinosour out of our ducts today.

But there are good things too:

- We're getting a new furnace and a/c on Wednesday.

- Rock Band 2 for the Wii (with downloadable songs) comes out November 16th.

- The Skins are actually playing well.

- My cholesterol is low.

- Obama's up in the polls.  For now.  But some of his supporters are idiots, too:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Down the Hatch

In this wonderful political season, I'm about jumping out of my shoes. I thought I felt strongly about making sure that George Bush didn't get re-elected in 2004. That was nothing. Finding that the race between Obama and McCain is a dead heat makes me sick to my stomach. The current polls show how little people care about issues, and how much they care about appearances. Especially when those appearances, particularly in the case of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, are basically thinly-veiled lies about her experience. As just stated by NBC News, the Bridge to Nowhere was dead when she finally decided to oppose it, and she didn't sell the plane on Ebay.

So, you say, hey Marshal (btw, not the first name, but the old-timey law-enforcer), why don't you get involved? Go out and do what you can to convince your swing-state (I guess "swing-commonwealth" doesn't flow as well) that McCain/Palin will take away more of our rights than Bush ever dreamed?

Sadly, I can't. Blame the Hatch Act of 1939. This "Patriot Act"-like legislation restricts the political activities of executive branch employees like me. I am not allowed to engage in any political campaigning. I can give money (which I haven't yet, but should), but cannot take an active part in any partisan activity*. It's goals are noble, I guess, so as not to allow any political influence into government work. But in the wake of the last eight years of partisan nonsense from the InJustice Department, I think I should get a waiver. All I want to do is hand out some literature, or draw a picture of Sarah Palin with devil horns. Is that really so awful?

* If you were inclined to actually check up on this assertion, these activities are not prohibited for most of the executive branch, but they are for my agency.  In the long run, that's probably good, as I am a distinct ideological minority at work.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On elimination, or "The Metro parking lot is covered in poop"


I notice this when I park at the non-garage metro near my house, as it is unenclosed, and has a large flock of geese hanging out there. Large, incontinent geese.

You wouldn't think this, because it a giant horking parking lot, which takes 5-10 minutes to cross fully, can be seen from space, and has a large amount of very treeless space. A large percentage of which is spattered with poop.

Now I don't want to play a game that I once played with Queendweeb's mom (an incredibly surreal attempt at guessing the animal based on examination of a pile of poop, which remains one of my favorite memories of Queendweeb's mom), but there is a lot of poop on the ground at the parking lot. And even a casual inspection, which I make as I walk by and try not to step in any of it, seems to reveal that this poop is both copious in form and in variety. And much of it has been run over by cars. There's a whole lot of different poop. Yes, this is what I think of on the way to my job. Located in an actual office, where I work, using a post graduate degree. That was not gained for any sort of post-graduate poop analysis.

So, there's a lot of poop, and it occurs to me, that within my limited sample area (from the car to the station) there still seems to be such a variety of poop, that it could not possibly all have come from one type of animal. But the geese are the only animals in this geographically isolated giant parking lot. So how did the rest of it get there? Is it a dog walking spot? Is there a herd of ruminant animals, sporting a very high fiber diet, who traipse around the parking lot around lunchtime? There is a lot of grass...Perhaps there's a small group of buffalo, cows, llamas (llama? llamae?), and perhaps a Yak? Because some of this seems like large-gauge poop. And then, as I shift my course approximately 3 feet to the right, part of me thinks...human? Lord help me, that's a gross thought and I...four feet to the right...

So I wonder about this. It's the kind of thing that the Metro personnel might know, but I don't think I'll ask them. Not only would it be embarrassing, they obviously don't seem concerned about it. They do have a lot of heavy equipment, but I think it is meant to clean up after other airborne messes, like sleet. Otherwise, there would be less poop drying in the sun. And fewer Geese. And more people walking in straight paths. As I look up, for a moment I hear the stately honking call of one of the parking lot's chief decorators. Then I hurry forward, trying to make myself as small a target as possible.

I, like many people, have been pooped on by nature. But not today, nature, not today. Optimisticalcynical 1 - Nature 0. I win for now...But those geese will have an awful lot of time alone with my car.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oh, how I love the sound of my own voice

We all know that Queen Dweeb lacks the "indoor voice." Hell, Queen Dweeb should likely just type her own voice out in caps lock a la Owen Meany style, for lo, it is that loud, and that distinctive. Or so she is told.

So it came as a bit of a shock the weekend before last when she found herself LOSING her voice. Her rich, expressive voice. How was she to festoon the world at large with expletives without it? How could she properly express her rage? A shaken fist lacks strength without the "HOODLUM PUNK KIDS" hurled in conjuction with it, you see...

By Monday, her voice a mere shred of its former glory, our faithful heroine arrived at work. Where they have an on-staff doctor (oh yes they do. seriously). And she tried CALLING the doctor. Have YOU tried calling someone with no voice? Let me tell you, it's not pleasant. After a halting, croaking attempt at a conversation, they just told me to get down there at 11. Because clearly, whoever I was, I was ill.

Did Queen Dweeb also mention she picked this weekend to fight with the boy? For yes, the new boy she had been dating had dared to irritate her while she fell ill. WITH NO VOICE. So hoarsely, much flailing and gesturing occurred. And crying, because, you know, THAT MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER. HERE, HAVE SOME CRAZIES WITH YOUR SCREECHY LACK OF EXPLANATIONS AND FLAILAGE. NOW I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY WHY YOU ARE UPSET WITH ME.

Ahem. Yes.

So, Queen Dweeb is ushered off to the doctor, who at first tells her, Laryngitis, nothing we can do, it's a virus. But the lady doth protest, for a simple virus could never destroy the VOCAL CHORDS OF STEEL. Pointing at the throat, and then the sinuses and croaking "infection. ow," the point is made that a sinus infection might be in play, check the throat for drainage of repugnant green festerage. Of which there is PLENTY TO GO AROUND, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME?

Whoa nelly, here's some antibiotics for you. Stat.

Sent merrily along on her way, Queen Dweeb "talks" to everyone in her path, wearing out her voice, making no sense, and flailing the entire time, for what she lacks in volume she'll make up for in AIRPLANE ARMS.

And the fun begins for our trusty heroine as we go to the pharmacy to obtain our prescription, and they ask for a phone number, become annoyed when the voice is not there to provide one. Then, the insurance is incorrect, from the prior job, and the lack of voice cannot explain quickly enough, irritating everyone in line (WHO CAN ALL HEAR THERE IS A LACK OF VOICE GOING ON HERE) and the pharmacist. Then, while stopping in the Giant to buy groceries, the get pissy that there is not chatting with them (AFTER TRYING TO TELL THEM NO VOICE) and screw up an item so refunding must occur, ONLY THEY MAKE QUEEN DWEEB EXPLAIN TO MANAGER. WITH NO VOICE. All in the space of 15 minutes.

So shout out to you, Giant on Arlington Road, for making Queen Dweeb get into her car and cry.

And thank you to the old man who stopped me in the parking lot to apologize on the behalf of everyone and tell me that the day would get better.

He was a little off, because it took 48 hours for THE VOICE to return and there was a panic attack because there was no talking and it was like sitting still in school and Queen Dweeb doesn't do that so well.

Yeah. Sort of like that school assignment we fund of my brother's where he had to write "I will sit quietly and listen." over and over again. Apparently in runs in the family...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

God help me, I miss real meetings.

For background information, I work in what is a very large company, with 6 offices, three within the United States, and three without. However, most of the business of the office is run out of the home office, in the home city (there are two offices here a few blocks apart), at which I work, or the largest satellite office (In New York.) And this is generally an okay arrangement. I function well with only minimal supervision. However, from time to time, meetings need to be held. And when I get assigned to a new case, more meetings need to be held. And this is where my working world turns into a molten cauldron of scalding hot suck.

It used to be that meetings were held in the big office, in the home office. This was fine by me, it's where I work anyway. Most cases tended to be run out of the big office, which is the largest one, and has the most people. And, since most people were in the large offices, if someone from NYC needed to have a meeting, they would take the train in for the day, and we'd have nice, face to face meeting. But, somewhere along the line, it was decided that having meetings in person was counterproductive.

And this decree was not only for interoffice meetings, but meetings in general. No longer do I need to actually speak with the supervising attorney on my case. No, much like The Great And Powerful OZ (updated for the information age), the man (or woman) gets to stay behind the curtain, and do all meetings by teleconference. Or email, if they're really uninclined to human contact. And telephone meetings suck worse than the unholy offspring of Paris Hilton and a Dirt devil. Not a classy vacuum, like a Dyson. For that, you probably get something from your better class of porn star.

Why do telephone meetings suck? Let me count the ways:

1. There is no human contact - On the surface, this is almost a positive. Safe in my hidey-hole, I do not have to see or interact with new people. I therefore don't have to comb my hair, appear interested, or even stay awake. Which can be hard. But no one else can see you, either. There is a complete lack of social cues, which leads us to...

2. Telephone Meetings are unclear, and last forever - The lack of any social cues lead to the inescapable fact that you cannot tell what the people that you work with are thinking through visual cues. Which in turn, means that you don't know when you are losing your audience. The only recourse that you can get is to occasionally bleat out "does anyone have any questions" which is greeted with the same sort of unenthusiastic, vaguely embarrassed mumbled "no" that you get in seventh grade, when your Gym teacher asks the health class if anyone has any more questions about the testicles. So, you get so bored, that you don't ask questions, because that will only prolong the meeting. Which, according to my personal calculations, was still as subjectively long as it would take to have my appendix removed via sharpened wooden spoon, without anasthetic. Actual time: 2 and 1/2 hours, or about as long as it would take to watch "The English Patient."

Because no one can see you getting bored, no one feels the need to move things along. This leads to making meetings much longer than they need to be. And this makes long teleconference meetings unbearably long; which in turn makes them about as useful as an unhousebroken Goldendoodle puppy. And, like an unhousebroken Goldendoodle puppy...

3. I had to pee - It was shortly after the meeting began that I realized I had made the tactical error of caffeinating myself in liquid form. Why, oh why didn't I buy those caffeine pills from the one-eyed guy at the bus station? Trucker's Choice sounded like a fine brand... But no. I had to do it the old fashioned way. And so, my back teeth were floating.

Anyway, when in bodily need of relief, you can't just leave these meetings. This is because some vital piece of information may be imparted somewhere, and you'd miss it. And, unlike a real meeting, in a real office, with real people who aren't all in another building (or, you know, state), you can't just excuse yourself quietly, tap the next person, and say "what did I miss". No, you have to wait for the meeting to be over. Unlike an unhousebroken Goldendoodle puppy, I'll get in trouble for relieving myself on the carpet. Plus, it's my desk, so I'd be sitting in my own pee. Which I hate. So I held it. For the approximate length of Starship Troopers (129 minutes. Thank you, IMDB). I was afraid of going out like Tycho Brahe (, which would have not only been highly embarrassing, but led to a stinky, stinky funeral. But, I guess, since I wasn't going to actually see anyone, I could have worn whatever I wanted, including adult diapers. Which leads me to the final point...

4. Meetings encourage people to dress properly, and yet with telephone meetings, it is so NOT required - And here we have a final point. I am required to wear business casual clothing at work. Which is fine. But these meetings are basically like telecommuting. If I wore adult diapers, a Beavis and butthead T-shirt, and a Mexican Luchadero Mask, no one at any of these meetings would know. The only reason I have to dress up at all is the fact that other people may see me outside of my file room. Which they only do when I leave to use the bathroom, or go get food or beverages, which also leads back to the bathroom. Within the file room, as long as my Shame is covered, I don't think my coworkers would have any issues.

This leads into a more general kvetch. Why do I have to dress up at all, if no one will ever see me? In the days of Face-to-face meetings, this was actually important. The partners at my office wear suits and ties most days. You want to dress up (at least a little), so that you don't look like a total schlemiel. There at least used to be a fear that behind each of those partners was a tiny gaggle of fashion critics,
(fashiionably dressed as neurtal-toned angels and devils) hanging out on a partner's shoulder, who would term you unfabulous and unprofessional, and sentence you to a queer-eye-for-the-lawyer-guy forced makeover. Wherein all of my normal pants would be replaced by pinstripes, and I would have to permanently dress like an '80s stockbroker. Which I would, but it's really expensive. I do like the suspenders, though.

But now, due to the fact that no one will ever, ever, see me, I just have to dress up enough as to not offend the office dress code. Which is ridiculous. No one will ever see me. Why, therefore, should I not be freed from the tyranny of pants? Seriously, pants are fine, but it's hot up in this piece. Can't I wear shorts and sandals? Maybe a Tuxedo T-shirt, just to preserve the image of formality? It's not like my bosses would ever know.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Manila Files, Episode 5: Bribes

Driving down the street with a couple of guys from work. Diplomatic tags, diplomat driving, we can do no wrong, right? The driver makes an illegal u-turn right in front of a bevy of traffic enforcement officers, and drives right by as they try to wave us down. All still good! Except that the light changes, and unlike most drivers in Manila, the driver actually stops. Thus begins 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

After scrambling for a vehicle, the traffic dudes pull up behind us and come to the window. Of course, at this moment, the light changes, and Manilans everywhere begin to honk is if they all had passengers about to give birth. We finally pull out of the way, and the "officers" pull IN FRONT of us, and back up close to our front bumper. The guy driving, trained in such things as evasive driving, doesn't like this, and begins to back up a bit, to leave room to get out if something crazy happens. "Cops" back up again. Oh well.

Thus begins 20 minutes of back and forth between the driver, the traffic cop, his supervisor, and the Embassy's security officer. We have been instructed never to give up a drivers' license, if, for some reason, you ever want to see it again. Apparently here if you get a ticket, it serves as your temporary license, and your permanent one is confiscated. You get your real license back when you pay the fine. It actually makes a kind of sense, as an incentive for you to pay the fine. However, we are having none of this. Unfortunately, the driver didn't have his diplomatic immunity card on him, or his embassy badge (because it was a SATURDAY), which would help prove his diplomatic status. No matter that he's driving a diplomatic vehicle, and the front passenger did have his diplomatic immunity card. The officer wanted the license, and he wasn't giving it up. The officer would not write the ticket without the license, despite constant entreaties to do so. Classic stalemate, between three Americans and one Filipino whose uniform was prettier than his English.

At some point during this proceeding, the traffic cop mentioned that the fine would be 500 pesos (about $11). I'm sure he knew he wasn't getting the license from us, especially since he could clearly see that we were diplomats. So I wonder, was he asking for a bribe? If we had just handed over 500 pesos, would have have walked away? Sadly, I didn't find out. Eventually, the driver showed the cop his car registration and license together (through the barely cracked window, so the guy couldn't grab anything), proving that he was the registered owner of the vehicle with diplomatic plates, and must therefore be a diplomat. With a stern warning to "always carry immunity card", we were on our way.

I want that 20 minutes back. More time to stare at the walls of my hotel room, waiting for Friday night and my flight to Hawaii...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Synergy of Suck: Wake Up and Smell the Gross Roast

We all know Queen Dweeb here loves her some coffee. We also know Queen Dweeb loves her a bargain. Naturally, we'd love to think these two go hand-in-hand. Sadly, they don't. When java is marked down, it's for a reason. TRUST ME.

Anyhow, Amazon often has beans on sale, and once in blue moon, they are drinkable, or even good. So Queen Dweeb merrily orders them. Especially when she has a coupon. For lo, the bargains, they are irresistable to her. Giant marks coffee down to half off for no one else in all the land would consider drinking it? SOLD.

Of course, this leads to many mornings of swearing at the coffee maker for producing less than stellar results. Also known as "swill." Which sends our faithful heroine to Caribou, Starbucks, or her favorite online Hawaiian retailer, Lion Coffee for the delicious Kona goodness that can be found for some actual cash.

Which leads us to the coffee cabinet. (Oh yes, did we mention? There is an ENTIRE CABINET devoted to coffee in Queen Dweeb's kitchen.) If you dare open it, you'll find about eleventy-twelve unfinished bags of coffee. Coffee so foul that no human could dare force it down their gullet. Queen Dweeb had made valiant efforts to finish these bags and cans of coffee, but had lost interest when new coffees had arrived, you see. For perhaps, just perhaps, Amazon had not let her down, and the coffee of cheapness was FULL OF DELICIOUSNESS instead of SUCK this time. Of course, one cup into the next bad, our naive little heroine realized she had been duped yet again by internet tards rating coffee as "highly drinkable" and "I wouldn't throw this away" and "maybe it doesn't suck THAT bad" and had to suffer through yet another bag o' suck.

So, casting an appraising eye on the eleventy-twelve bags o' suck, and the end bags of a few french roasts, and a nearly empty ginormous can of Alterra (Oh, the milquetoastery), and idea was formed. A GENIOUS idea. If all of the bags of suck are combined with the french roast, GOOD COFFEE will be produced, right?

So, in a frenzy, Queen Dweeb furiously begins pouring the eleventy-twelve bags of suck into the near empty can of milquetoastery, adding in the french roast dregs, grinding up the dregs of some deliciousness for good measure. And seals the can. And then THROTTLES THE CAN INTO SUBMISSION. DAMMIT. QUEEN DWEEB WILL MAKE YOU TASTE GOOD.

Pleased with her work, Queen Dweeb sets up her coffee maker for the next morning, awaiting the fruits of her labor.



Hints of deceny swirled in her mouth, only to be overpowered by the blandness from milquetoastery and bags of suck.

Confirmed by all who have had it, combining the bags of suck have only created a better, stronger, faster version of bad coffee. It's like the bionic coffee. Only craptacular.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Whereby my body proves it has the upper hand, yet again

Note to our readers: The overusage of capital letters in this post is apologized for in advance. Profusely. However, to anyone who knows Queen Dweeb and her migraines, one knows that the rage, OH THE RAGE, that comes along with them can only be express in terms of the capital letters. I now leave you to your scheduled reading.

So Queen Dweeb hath been suffering from the migraines. Again. Mainly due to the EVIL, TERRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY-BAD HORROR-MONES. Even after going off of them. After much whining, and dragging of the feet, and womiting, it was decided that NO ONE WAS EVER GOING TO SPEAK TO HER EVER AGAIN, for LO, the YARFING, WE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT ONE MORE TIME MISSY, ESPECIALLY NOT OVER DINNER, DO YOU HEAR ME OR DO I NEED TO PULL THIS CAR OVER RIGHT NOW?

So, after some thought, and a cattle prod, Queen Dweeb reluctantly made an appointment with the neurologist, and told him only this: "I HAVE THE MIGRAINES. THEY MAKE ME BARF ALL THE TIME, MAKE THEM GO AWAY. FAR, FAR AWAY. BUT NO DRUGS. NO DRUGS. THEY WILL MAKE ME FAT. LIKE A SAUSAGE IN THE CASING! DID YOU HEAR ME? I LOOK LIKE A JIMMY DEAN BREAKFAST LINK!"

To which the response was: "Ah, but there is a drug on the market, one that has a very serious side effect that you might tolerate. This side effect is coveted by women across all of Potomac, far and near. It is called: ANOREXIA!"

Dr. Awesome then goes on to explain that the drug (Topamax) has very few side effects, but that the one thing it seems to do for everyone is make them lose weight.


Literally, at this point, Queen Dweeb is hearing the Charlie Brown teacher talk of wah-wah-wah-wah, and dreaming of ponies, leprechauns and FITTING INTO HER FREAKING PANTS AGAIN. AND NOT THE EXPANDABLE KIND.

So, I am given the Topamax, and it is special, and because it is a brain drug, you step up the dose. So they start you out on 25 mg pills. And once I get to 100 mg a day, I check back in with Dr. Awesome, and we decide that, yes, weight is going down, barfing=very much less, and we will switch it up to 50 mg pills.


Yeah.......until. DUH DUH DUH. What's this? Oh, let me go HORK UP MY LUNCH. Oh, hello vertigo. I hadn't realized that I had invited you for an extended stay in my brain. Oh, appetite. I see you're back. Craving for pork chops? I MISSED YOU SO. THANK YOU FOR COMING OVER UNANNOUNCED SO I CAN HORK YOU UP, TOO. ALONG WITH ALL OF THOSE PEZ I FOUND AT MY DESK.

So, in a panic, I think, this can't be, Topamax cannot be letting Queen Dweeb down, can it? Topamax=fail=JIMMY DEAN SAUSAGE ARMS=MURDEROUS RAMPAGE.

Frantically digging through the apothecary that is the kitchen cabinet, a lone bottle of 25 mg pills is spied. Timidly, Queen Dweeb starts a regimen of them, forlornly thinking it is a lost cause. The next morning, she awakens to sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Birds trill, Jupiter has aligned with Mars, and all is right with the world. Two days later, the curious incident of the yakking in the day has been forgotten, and 50 mg pills are swallowed.



Half mad, Queen Dweeb calls Dr. Awesome, and has the lovely task of explaining why she needs mass doses of 25 mg pills called in, that her body can't metabolize the 50 mg pills, and for the LOVE OF GOD CAN WE GET THIS CALLED IN STAT?

Did we mention there is no generic of this drug? And a 90 day supply had been ordered via mail order? EVEN BETTER. Nothing like spending $160 on USELESS DRUGS!

Four days later, 25 mg pills are called in. Horking abated, life goes on.

So the moral of this story is do not taunt happy fun metabolism.

The Manila Files, Episode 4: Cheap S**t

OK, now that we're done with the boring history lesson, it's time to talk about the primary reason Americans care about Asia: these countries produce cheap shit for us to buy. Asia is famous for knockoff goods, as U.S. copyright and trademark laws aren't enforced here. As the producer of most of the original goods, we should be offended that our ideas are being ripped off. But in actuality, all we think is: Bonanza! After all, we are the ones who fell in love with Napster.

Yesterday I went to a mall here that specializes in knockoff DVDs, video games, cds, and even electronics. Due to the traffic nightmare that is this hellhole, I didn't have much time to fully explore. But I did leave with 10 new DVDs, all for about 13 bucks. There are apparently some guidelines for the purchase of knockoff DVDs: mainly, don't buy a movie if it hasn't actually been released on DVD yet. Why? Because it was probably made by some moron with a video camera in a theater near you. But if the movie is out on DVD, which is easily copied, then you should be all set. Except sometimes, the movie will be in Chinese, or may have the ending cut off. Caveat emptor. But seriously, when paying a buck, you take your chances.

There's not much anyone can do to those who sell these knockoffs. The women in the store we went to (my coworkers is well known there) said that the FBI had come to their store a few days before. Kind of useless, though, because they don't actually have any jurisdiction here! I'm a little surprised that the DVDs weren't "confiscated", and then repeatedly tested for quality by the families and friends of the agents. After all, there are a lot of DVDs to test.

There are also a couple of guys that accost me on my street every time I head to the mall, trying to sell me stuff. I never really paid attention to them until today, I guess now that my interested in cheap shit has been piqued. These guys seem to sell two things. The first, oddly, are silver dollars. Or what appear to be silver dollars. I'm not sure why they think I would want to buy shiny money with paper money, but they wouldn't do it if there weren't any takers. So there must be something in it for them.

The other thing they sell? Cialis. Little green boxes of ED meds. I've been trying to puzzle out their choice of product to peddle. Did a bunch of little asian guys manage to steal a shipping container of pills and silver dollars? Is there really a big market for ED pills on the streets of this slum? Or, even worse, do I look like I have trouble getting it up? These guys are pretty aggressive- acting as if I secretly needed the Cialis but was ashamed to admit it. Maybe it's for all the 60-year-old white guys dating 20-year-old Filipinas.

Shit, am I finally starting to look old? I'm going to go watch No Country for Old Men, to feel better about myself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't Go Brakin' My Heart (or Kneecaps)

So, the other day, Queen Dweeb is cruising home from work, down Swinks Mill Road, which is windy, and rather steep, when over the cheerful tones of "Tainted Love" (yes, braking in time to the beat, don't you do that? you KNOW you do, just a little). Puzzled. Queen Dweeb opts to turn down the tunage, and tenatively applies pressure to the brakes.

Well, that can't be good.

Thoughtfully pondering the last time she put brakes in her trusty Aztek. Why, that would be NEVER. Not in SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND MILES. Say, that REALLY can't be good. Pulling up to 495, Queen Dweeb decides discretion is the better part of valor, and head back towards her dealership, into traffic.

Arriving at the Pontiac dealership , she informs them that it appears that her rotors might be a bit on the worn side, and perhaps MAH BRAKES. THEY NEEDS SOME HELPS NOW.

Leaving the big orange beast behind, the real fun begins over at Enterprise. A rental vehicle to get me to and fro, you see. And lo, they are short on cars, and Queen Dweeb is long of leg, and short of torso, which makes picking a car a wee bit challenging. So, armed with this knowledge, the order is given to the trusty squires of the short term motorcar: "HELLO. MAH CAR IS IN TEH SHOP WITH TEH ROTORS OF DOOM. I NEED A MOTORCAR STAT. AND PLEASE MAKE IT CHEAP!"

Yes, that's right. The only directive given: CHEAP. Queen Dweeb would be rockin' the Sub Compact.

The trusty squires ushered Queen Dweeb to her new chariot for the next 24 hours. A fabulous, albeit slightly fragrant Chevy Cobalt. Promptly christened "Li'l Junky" for its lack of the only feature Queen Dweeb requires in a car: power seats. You see, Queen Dweeb, being long of leg, and short of torso, cannot see over the steering wheel of most vehicles unless the seat is jacked up to nosebleed height. Sadly, Li'l Junky did not share Queen Dweeb's vision (you know, the one of being able to SEE THE ACTUAL ROAD), and had one option, which was to pull the seat forward. Which meant driving with the right knee literally jammed into the steering wheel. Awesome. Oh, and let's not forget the headrest. For some reason, Li'l Junky's headrest had an odd bulge that protruded at just the right height against the back of Queen Dweeb's head, forcing it ever so slightly forward, eliminating what minimal ability she had left to see over the steering wheel.

So picture this: Queen Dweeb basically looked like a 10 year old kid crossed with a 90 year old lady trying to drive a car, but with her knees jammed up against the wheel for apparently she is a daddy long legs trapped in the body of a 30 year old woman. Now with extra bruising on the kneecaps for your viewing pleasure! Fabulous.

And all this can be yours for the low price of just $36 a day!

And MAH BRAKES? Yes, it was the rotors. Nothing like a surprise $386 bill to make your month, no?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Manila Files, Episode 3: A Primer on the Phlippines

After my last post about the lack of Asian-ness in my little corner of Asia, a comment suggested to me that we know very little about this place. So I thought I'd post a little bit about the country, and what I know of it. Which, notably, isn't much. This won't be as funny as the discussion of the particular metallic makeup of Queen Dweeb's balls, but I seem to have no other outlet for my ruminations right now. I'll try to throw in some amusing things along the way so as not to bore everyone.

Before I knew anything about the Philippines, I guess I had the impression that it was a provincial little country with a bunch of islands, where people played mah jhong and didn't have refridgerators. Granted, this impression came from my father, who spent a semester here when he was in high school, 40-some years ago. Apparently my rather poor grandparents couldn't believe that the peopel he was living with didn't have one, so they shipped them a refridgerator. Good ol' Grammy May was outdoing herself even then. Anyway, so my knowledge of the place needed a bit of updating. There are apparently over 7,000 islands that constitute the country, with over 100 indigenous groups speaking (I believe) 33 languages. Most people think the country is Catholic, and part of it is. But the southern islands are very heavily Muslim. This dichotomy explains why my white ass is here- the Muslim population would like to have its own state, and has resorted to insurgency to achieve it (hmm, sounding like Latin America again).

Multiple Muslim separatist groups are fighting the government. However, as Philippine cuisine is a conglomeration of foods from nearby countries, apparently Philippine Islam is a little bit of a mishmash as well. It is not "fundamentalist", simply separatist, and there are many flavors of that, as well. The funny thing is, there is already a section of the south that is governed by Muslims, called the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. These people are pretty happy with the way things are. The primary separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (I'll let you all figure out that acronym), are not. So here, even the separatists are fighting their own people.

Like most developing countries, there is a great disparity between rich and poor, even in the northern, more "developed" region. This of course leads to corrupt government officials, military, police, and pretty much everyone who feels that they are sacrificing for their country and receiving a poor salary. An excellent example of this is my father's old buddy from his time here. My dad suggested I get in touch with him, because he was fated to be a high-ranking military member, and would certainly love to see me. Oh, high ranking he was, until the Brigadier General was court-martialed for pocketing some development funds. Yikes.

As I mentioned, the Philippine food is really a conglomeration of foods from other cultures. One of the main dishes I see advertised is called "pancit canton." Pancit means noodles; canton means cantonese. Another food I see is lumpia- vegetables wrapped in a rice-paper roll. Sound familiar? It goes on like this. Up to and including the aforementioned Kenny Rogers' Roasters. I really haven't found many places serving this "Philippine" food. I'm a little afraid to just randomly stop into a restaurant, as some of the food quality has already set my stomach aflutter. So hopefully I'll find someone who has vetted one of these places and I will try it out.

In summary, as I've written this I've solidified my thoughts on this place a little more. It seems to me that maybe this is a country and a people that are simply very suggestible. They are of Spanish descent, speak English, eat Chinese food- maybe this is why I'm not finding anything particularly "Philippine" about it. They don't seem as nationalistic as many other countries I've visited, either. Maybe they have had so many years of outside influence that they just take what comes. I'll have to think about that some more.

I'll be kvetchier next time, I promise.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Keeping it real: Breakupgate 2008

So it's been some time since I've kvetched at you. There have been good reasons. The wholesale collapse of one's industry, for example. But I digress.

We all know that Queen Dweeb has an awesome track record for breakups. Excellent reasons for getting dumped include:

1. You're not poor (no, really)
2. I don't want to have sex with you (no, really, in HIGH SCHOOL)
3. You're not pretty enough (oh, yes he did)
4. I lost my job, I am going to sleep all day and freeze you slowly out of my life (oh, the hell you are)
5. This open relationship isn't working, and let me make your life a living hell because of it (feel free to ask)

Let me add to the mix, "I'm getting back together with an old flame, but no, wait, let me NOT TELL YOU ABOUT IT FOR ALMOST A WEEK." Because, you know, nothing adds insult to injury like being the last one to know, huh? I mean, really, this was a summer fling, not a serious relationship. I didn't CARE about it. I did CARE about the fact that I didn't know, and had blathered on for, oh, 15 minutes without knowing, and had sent, oh, 5 days worth of emails without knowing, and oh, had spent, HOURS figuring out plans for the weekend. But it's cool, cause, you know, you're just not into confrontation or whatever.

The best part? When the boy in question was called out on his pussitude for not admitting to this sooner? His reply was that NOT EVERYONE HAS BALLS OF STEEL LIKE QUEEN DWEEB.

So here's to you, dorky boys with no spines, for giving me fodder for my blog!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Manila Files, Episode 2: What Country am I in, again?

So I'm in the Philippines. Lots of small asian people running around, speaking a funny language. Their "buses" look like the love-children of a covered pickup and a short bus (see previous post for a photo). But my first question is, this is Asia? Really?

The first oddity is that all the signs are in English, but all the people I see are speaking Tagalog. I think most have a decent command of English, but it's hard to tell sometimes. This confusion of language is most notable when reading the local newspapers. By all appearances, they look just like American newspapers, with larger headlines. But when you sit down and read an article, it becomes apparent that these writers don't have the command of English I expect out of a published document. Everything seems peachy until you come up against a run-on sentence that would have had my 10th-grade English teacher seizing on the floor. They're actually kind of like The Washington Post now that they offered early retirement to all their copy editors.

What's truly odd to me, however, is the mall. There is an enormous one two blocks from here. Inside are enough restaurants that I could easily eat there twice a day and not eat at the same place twice. Most of the places there, you and I have heard of: McDonald's and Wendy's of course, but also a TGI Friday's, an Auntie Anne's, a Shakey's (there's a blast from the past), and I kid you not, a fucking Kenny Rogers' Roasters. I've never even seen one of those in the States. The Kenny Rogers and the KFC seemed the busiest- fried chicken must be big here. Add in the Gap, Nine West, Marks and Spencer, and Toys 'R' Us, and I feel right at home.

So seriously, this is Asia? Yeah, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants, but I can't tie anything I see to anything I ever imagined as "asian". Maybe world cities are becoming more homogeneous, but I could swear I was back in Latin America. It makes sense, in a way, as the Spanish first colonized the Philippines, and were quickly followed by the Americans. But I don't feel like I'm somewhere new. It just seems like another iteration of the dirty and poor Latin American cities I've been to. So maybe I should be asking myself instead, what hemisphere am I in?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Real Men of Annoying

Kvetchisthenewblog presents: Real men of annoyance. Please supply the music in your own heads.

Real men of annnoooooooooooyance!

Today, Kvetchisthenewblog salutes you, Mr. Bathroom Newspaper reader.

Mr. Bathroom Newspaper Reeeeeaaaaader!

Because every house is your house, you gallantly take your newspaper into the work bathroom and get far too comfortable while sitting on the communal commode.

Pass over the sports page!

As you do in your home toilet, you peruse the post while on the throne, because it would not do to be bored during those anxious few moments where you are seperated from all electronic and social stimulants.

Cause I'm afraaaaaaaaid I'd drop my iPod!

And when you are done browsing the news of the day, you generously leave the newspaper hanging from the handlebar, in the spirit of true egalitarianism. In that same spirit, you leave the newsaper in the time after you wiped and before you washed your hands, so that any man who picks up that paper can get your poop particles all over themselves.

Soooooaaap is for chuuuuuuuuuumps!

So here's to you, oh Baron of the Broadsheets. Without your bold actions, we might not never have known the score of the Royals game last night. Or had to wash our hands for a preemptive second time.

Mr. Bathroom Newspaper Reeeeeaaaaader!

The Manila Files, Episode 1: Frogger

I have now been in Manila, Philippines, for four days. So far, I haven't done much. I've gone to work, slept a lot so as to acclimate myself to being 12 hours off from the east coast, and done little else. The only excitement has been my daily 10-minute walk to work. It's a reasonably "safe" walk, along an open promenade in front of Manila Bay. However, to get to the promenade I must cross an eight-lane road with a very poorly functioning traffic light.

Many people claim that video games are a waste of time and lead to a deterioration in brain functioning. Well, thanks to the Atari 2600, I may actually survive this trip to Manila. For crossing Roxas Boulevard resembles nothing so much as a game of Frogger. Instead of slowing down- as if the drivers never relate to such a lowly person who would have to walk across a busy road- the drivers flash their lights and honk their horns, usually while accelerating. We know you're there, assholes, we just need to get to work. Cut us some slack.

Maybe the people of this country are so small because they are impatient to get out of the womb. This impatience is certainly manifested in the way they drive. From what I can tell, there are no observed traffic rules but god-forbid you get in someone else's way. The most vile offenders are usally the "jeepneys", which look like garishly painted and squashed "short" buses. These things stop on a dime whenever a person flags them down, but are their drivers are notably short-tempered when another jeepney dares to stop to pick up its own passengers.

Not to be outdone, drivers that happen to be behind a jeepney will universally lean on their horns and make every effort to move around. You'd think they had never encountered one of these vehicles with the seizure-inducing paint jobs, and that they were completely confounded by the idea that they might, for some reason, stop. So far, I haven't seen any accidents, but I keep hoping. With any luck, my skinny ass won't be personally involved.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I have to agree with the Marshall. Normally, I would have let a massive rager fly, but nothing annoys me at the moment. It's odd, because I do alot of my best humor-induced quipping at the office, but by the time I muster the wherewithal to write about anything good, the rage passes from me. But some of the funniest stuff I know of does occur at my office.

Take, for example, my coworker, a Croatian-born former Swede, who worships at the Altar of Ronald Reagan and has been given the improbable nickname "el chupacabra". The same person who once asked me about the congratulatory gesture or greeting where two people hit their fists together. "Optimisticalcynical, that's called 'fisting each other,' right?" Things like that break up my everyday boredom at work. I suppose I tell myself that I will blog about stuff like that, to entertain the masses, but I never get around to it. I will, in the future, try to get more of a wild hair up my ass about this stuff, 'cause it's generally pretty fun.

Anyway, in the spirit of mini-kvetching, here is a brief list of things that piss me off:

1. The fact that I have a fairly technologically advanced, double-alarm alarm clock, where one, and only one of the alarms usually fails to go off. And, as a special bonus bit o' fun, the alarm that will fail to work changes on a nearly daily basis.

2. The "Grocery Shrink Ray" whereupon manufacturers, in an effort to cut costs, shrink the amount of stuff in their products, as well as their packaging subtly, in the hopes that we, the idiot consumer, won't notice that they are charging the same for 10 oz of cereal that they used to charge for 12 oz.

3. That Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila haven't started to hang out. I say this because it is my theory that the combination of their incredibly high levels of vapidity, fame-seeking, undeserving attention, etc. would create a Useless Celebrity Singularity, sucking them both into oblivion, and eliminating the need future seasons of shitty reality TV. And maybe, just maybe, Tiffany from I Love New York and the Pussycat Dolls could be caught in the subsequent explosion of the Useless Celebrity Singularity. And then be eaten by wolves.

4. I know it's the summer, but is it too much to ask to have one scripted tv show worth watching? Please?

5. The people next to my house who do not perform any maintenance on their home, letting their grass grow so tall that the city has to be called in to cut it. If that tall grass becomes a hiding place for snakes, I am going to lose my shit. I hate snakes with a fervor that could be called Indiana Jones-esque.

6. The fact that (one of) my bosses, in charge of assigining me work, has still not told me whether I will need to come in on the weekend. Not so much with my boss, but the fact that the people who apparently need my help so urgently cannot be bothered to actually give my boss a yes or no answer. And they will likely make up their minds after I, and all of the other potential workers, have left for the day (and weekend). They will then become angry, and wonder why no one came in to help them even though they emailed us, and "why weren't their blackberries turned on?" Because we don't have them. Please stop assuming that we do. In any case, aswers will come too late for anything useful to be done about them. I suppose that bueraucratic incompetence knows no time or place. It can readily shoot itself in the foot at any time.

7. The woman who sat behind me on the Metro today. You know what you did.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


So this is my meta-kvetch. A kvetch about the lack of kvetching.

I can't be the only one who gets annoyed by things around here.

Currently on my list:

- 6:00 am video-conferences
- People in foreign countries who abandon their jobs
- Laundry
- Hanley Ramirez (another baseball reference)
- The bright-orange animal vomit on the sidewalk

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Faux News

It was particularly ironic and, in a way, poignant, that the week we lost Tim Russert- a trustworthy, ethical, and insightful journalist- is the same week that Fox (Faux) News removed two broadcasters for inflammatory, ignorant, and racist comments about Barack and Michelle Obama. I don't think that there is any level to which Faux News will not stoop to get ratings and rile up the conservative machine against Barack Obama. I must qualify what I'm about to say with the fact that I didn't actually see these incidents, as I refuse to watch a network that makes up news. I did hear about all of this through other news sources, however, which is particularly hilarious because Faux is actually providing stories for their competition. Beautiful.

So the first Faux incident involved the fist-bump that Michelle and Barack Obama shared on the night Senator Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential Nomination. I was watching the speech, and thought that it was a tender moment between a very public couple, and I thought it would humanize them to those critics who call them "elitist." However, some dumbass Faux "journalist" referred to it on the air as a "terrorist fist bump." As shouldn't surprise anyone, fist bumps are a form of greeting used every day by millions of Americans. They are particularly common, however, in the Black community. Apparently, according to this "journalist," Black people who give each other fist bumps are terrorists. How can anyone take an intimate moment between a married couple and equate that to terrorism? Who thinks this way?

If this were the only unconscionable comment made on Faux News last week, I'd probably roll my eyes and chalk it up to typical Faux News sensationalism. However, during a segment on how the media is attacking Michelle Obama for being a strong woman, Faux News showed a graphic saying something to the effect of "Liberals Want Media to Lay Off Obama's Baby Mama." Assuming that we all know what the term means, it is obvious that Faux News decided to insinuate that the Obamas only got together because he knocked her up. Apparently Faux believes that the only marriages that minorities have in this country are of the shotgun variety. Where does Faux find these people? 1938? Who thinks this way any more? You know, if they are going to draw racist and insulting conclusions about minorities, I'm going to draw some conclusions about them:

- Faux News "journalists" shouldn't be working for any news outfit larger than the "Bethesda Gazette," a free garbage newspaper that someone paid me a pittance to throw into bushes when I was 14.
- The job application to work at Faux must require a letter of recommendation from the Grand Master of the KKK.
- All Faux News job interviews must be conducted by Montgomery Burns, and the answer to at least one question must be "23 Skidoo."
- These idiots must be the ones who buy all that crap Billy Mays is always yelling about
- Every last one of them should be forced to go back to Journalism School to learn that "news" requires "sources" that aren't "Joe Bob from the gas station."

I hope that these assholes have paid close attention to the outpouring of love and sadness in the wake of Tim Russert's passing. Will anyone be upset when Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or any of their conservative blowhards kicks it? Not a chance. Russert would be ashamed to be considered in the same profession as these guys. Unforunately, their hot air will probably fill the void left by Russert. And we thought the primary season was long...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Incomptence Rage

Why are people so incompetent? Seriously. There is a woman in my office who has one job (at least as far as I can tell): take employees' time sheets and enter them into the computer system that gets us paid. I've never seen her do anything else but talk on the phone. (As an aside, this system is also ntiquated. There's no reason why we don't have a system where each employee enters their time, which is then validated by a supervisor. Instead we email timesheets to this moron who uses a MS-DOS interface to screw us all over.)

So I just checked my pay stub, and I only got paid for 72 hours this pay period. Notably, my time sheet clearly stated that between work and sick leave I should have been paid for 80. So when things didn't add up, did she bother to double-check what I sent her with what she entered? Apparently not. And if she was really confused, did she contact me to see if just maybe we could figure out what the problem is? Also, no.

Why are people incapable of doing their jobs properly? I am also fighting my physical therapy company, which billed me again for the copayments that I paid after each session. The first woman I spoke to took three weeks to accomplish nothing and never call me back. The next person I talked to seemed to understand what the problem was, but it was something only her supervisor could fix. She said she'd get back to me by yesterday, because apparently it takes five days to get someone to make a change to a file or spreadsheet. But I guess five days wasn't enough, after all...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hot as Rock Band

I'm in Austin this weekend. We have friends here, and so we visit. First note: it is HOT. I hope to remember this and not complain about DC in August, because Austin in May is worse, and they have many more months of it. Yet another reason why Texans are all crazy. That and how they believe the presence of a quarterback's girlfriend at a football game will determine whether they win the Super Bowl. Oh, and they name airports after one-term Presidents who sire two-term Presidents who believe that Jesus wants us in Iraq. You know, I could keep going. Texans are crazy for lots of reasons.

Second note: barbecue is awesome. We ate at the best barbecue restaurant on the planet last night. You pay $19 and they bring you plates of barbecue (sausage, brisket, and ribs), potoato salad, beans, and bread until you burst. Then, when you think you can't eat any more, they bring cobbler, which requires you to pack in more. Then you roll outside and drive back to Austin, where you collapse into a coma. Good times. Interestingly, it's in a dry county, so they serve no alcohol. But no problem! You can bring a cooler of beer! Or cider! Or wine, which we didn't understand, really, but you can add that to the Texas Crazy List started above.

Third note: we have been introduced to Rock Band. This shit is addictive. It's like Guitar Hero, but with drums, a bass, and a singer. And if you're a guy who owns a big house in Austin, you build a stage for it. About 12 of us got together on Friday night and played RockBand for about six hours. This is perfect for me: I have always wanted to re-create my favorite songs on some sort of instrument. I dabbled briefly in the guitar, but that interest waned when it required, you know, practice. Playing a fake guitar in front of a TV is much more my speed. However, and I don't know what to make of this, I played better when I was drinking. Was I more relaxed? Did I play better with others around me (this was noted as I woke up Saturday morning and played again by myself)? Maybe I just THOUGHT that I played better when I was drinking? Who knows. But we still have another day here, so there is time to determine the answer. And really, who wants to go outside when it's 129 degrees? Seriously.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mozilla and Past Me - two pains in my ass

Mozilla, oh Mozilla. Why do you pain me so? I love you most of the time, with your browser that doesn't crash every five minutes, your tab feature, even the little fox mascot. There are also other reasons that tech people love, but I don't really care about open source, if it's linux capable or whatever - I think my computer is run by fairy dust and Keebler elves. Anyway, Firefox, why must you hate? Why can't I print ANYTHING out of Firefox on my home computer? Why can't you figure out that I am not printing web pages on index cards? Why? I have uninstalled and reinstalled and there is no love. NONE. One word a page? Really, Firefox?


This weekend, boyfriend and I sold his car - we are officially a single car household! The greeness! The economic benefits! My joy is marred, however, by the villian known as Past Me- I can't figure out where Past Me put the extra car key. No idea. . .none. I look all through the car, in the glove compartment and the random useless little nooks and crannies. Then I think, maybe it's in the car file in the filing box. It's so logical, thus so unlikely, that it might just be the place. But no, Past Me figured on that and put it somewhere else. I keep thinking of places that it could be, of opening the drawer/cabinet/file/box and finding the key, just sitting on top of everything. I hate Past Me. She was retarded. I am totally out of places to look. And Toyota? They want some sort of key number or some such nonsense that will require a trip to Satan's Amusement Park, known as the stupid effing dealership. Hate, hate, hate.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mass Hysteria

So this week the Pope was in Washington, and yesterday gave a mass at Nationals Park. I am not here to discuss the merits and drawbacks of Catholicism or Organized Religion, as these are personal issues. Though for those who read my previous post about Opening Night at Nationals Park, you probably don't wonder at what altar I worship.

Anyway, please take a good look at the below photo:

Is there not an odder place to have a religous service than at a sports venue? Obviously a city's stadiums are its largest public gathering places, so when you want a large service, this is where you go. Makes total sense. Except for the fact that ballparks, and particularly this one, were built to be palaces of conspicuous consumption. The owners of the Nationals want you to spend as much money as you might have to your name at their ballpark. The place was built to stimulate every sense from well before the first pitch (if you weren't aware, there is a PLAYSTATION PAVILION behind center field, just in case you missed your Halo or Guitar Hero for the four hours you're away from your house) to well after the game. All the while, they are hoping you will empty your wallet for Ben's half-smokes, giant foam fingers, and, my personal favorite, helmet sundaes.

So, theoretically, what is more antithetical to such blatant consumerism (and the yang to its yin: accumulation of wealth) than religion? OK, ignore the fact that the Vatican's wealth in uncountable, and focus on the individuals whose faith provides peace and meaning to life, and whose chance to be near the Pope is an unbridled joy. Is there nothing weirder than conducting their most sacred rite in front of Ben's Chili Bowl, at a place that tries to sell its patrons as much beer as humanly possible? I also don't know how you reconcile the holiness of the event with the Miller Lite and Geico ads on the stadium garages.

(As an aside, I must also mention the guy on his cell phone who can't put off business for 90 minutes so he can attend a service led by God's Representative on Earth. Seriously, this is messed up.)

The Pope is leaving town today, and heading to New York to give a mass there. Where, you ask? Yankee Stadium, of course. From one cathedral to another.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Field of Dreams

**WARNING** This is another "baseball, not kvetch"-related post. You have been warned.

We all hope for moments in life to justify the decisions we make. You want that new job to fulfill you more, even though it pays less. You hope the crazy color you painted your walls complements your eclectic furniture. You pray that the test comes back negative after the fun but possibly calamitous "accident."

And you hope that years of slavish (and continually mocked) devotion to a slow-moving sport will pay off eventually with one moment of bliss.

Last night was my moment.

When the Montreal Expos, the Jamaican Bobsled Team of Major League Baseball, moved to Washington, the city was excited. When the DC Council, after much recrimination and backbiting, approved the construction of a new baseball stadium, there was both excitement and dismay at the cost of a stadium in a city whose schools were crumbling. But last night, there was total joy, at least for those hardy few of us present at newly-christened Nationals Park.

When tickets for the first game at the new stadium went on sale, I had two computers and my phone working feverishly to get tickets. Alas, it was not to be. Scalped tickets on StubHub were going for 15-50 times face value. Not gonna happen. But then my wonderful cousin, with her back-alley ties, managed to get us tickets for a high, but not too unreasonable price. And my wonderful wife told me to go for it.

It was oold. The lines for hot chocolate and coffee were atrocious. But after a really remarkable half-pound hamburger (Grays Grill behind the scoreboard) we settled in to watch baseball in My Personal Mecca. And the Nationals did not disappoint.

Baseball is well-known for being slow-moving and often incomprehensible. But there are moments when even the novice fan can somehow feel the tension and excitement of a key situation. With the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the last inning, the moment that justified my decision to spend an exorbitant amount of money to sit in the cold on a late-March night, came to pass.

The crack of the bat was like a rifle shot. I didn't think the ball had the distance. But the first Home Run for the Nationals in their new stadium was the game-winner, hit by the face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. I don't think anybody breathed for a moment, and suddenly I found myself jumping up and down and screaming in pure orgasmic bliss. My wife was crying. A walk-off home run, in the first game in the new stadium, agaisnt a powerful team, on national television. It was the perfect moment, and one I'm sure I will remember for the rest of my life.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I love baseball, and last night was why.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Damnit, just pick someone!

Listening to the news on the radio, it becomes apparent that we're not going to have a democratic nominee for president until after the Pennsylvania primaries. We knew this for a while, but it becomes apparent how dumb this is after hearing that John McCain, (R-Old) has been making trips to the Middle East (and other countries), trying to solve some problems, meet foreign leaders, etc. You know, stuff that makes him look...I don't presidential material. And, in the meanwhile, there is nothing happening in the democratic race whatsoever, except for the wrangling by two crybaby states over the fact that their delegates won't count.

As an aside, there is a palpable irony to the fact that Florida (who should not, at this point, be trusted to run a high school student council election) and Michigan moved their primaries early, so that they would have a critical voice. If they had kept their primaries when they were supposed to be, they would actually gotten a critical voice in deciding who the nominee was. Instead, they chose to make themselves irrelevant, and are now whining that their votes should still count. And that the national party should pay to run elections again. No matter how those state votes turn out, it'll be a travesty on some level, and someone will cry foul, and there will be infighting and lawsuits.

You always wonder how the democrats will manage to screw up the presidential election. Well, now we know! While the undisputed republican candidate is going off, making friends with world leaders, and not having to campaign against anyone from his own party, he is free to make the democratic candidates look indecisive, non-presidential, petty, and weak.

In short, democrats, just pick someone! I know who I would prefer, but I like the other candidate too. If they were at the head of the ticket, that would be fine with me. And everyone else. Polling generally shows that while democrats have a preference, they would stiull support whichever candidate gets the nomination. But just pick someone! And in doing so, force teh republican nominee to stop going off to other countries, making himself look good, and bring him to task right here, in the 50 states that will determine who becomes our next president. (Okay, likely the 10 or so that will be in play, but we can dream of a fight that might actually have to be waged in 50 states). If we just pick someone, we can actually begin the real fight, showing the American people why a democratic preident (and a democratic congress) is better for America.

But, instead, we'll have at least another month of pointless, unproductive wrangling, where the two candidates snipe at each other, instead of challenging the republicans. Where the superdelegates will decide the winner, leaving the actual voting public feeling so disenfranchised that some of them won't even come out and vote. Where the two candidates, in their rush to win, will tear each other down so thoroughly that whoever wins will have given the republicans ammunition to fight the eventual winner with. And that, friends, is how the democrats will screw up this one. So, for the party's sake, for the country's sake, Just pick one now!

As another aside, can we finally pick someone? Yes we can.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My 1/4 Cent

Ryan has put forth a very even-handed analysis of the remaining presidential candidates. I agree with almost everything he says. From Huckabee to McCain to Obama, he's dead on. However, I think he has not done justice to the shit that the Clinton Campaign is pulling right now. Let me caveat this post by saying I am extremely angry right now, so if the grammar and/or logic is lacking, I apologize.

First, this bullshit with Florida's and Michigan's delegate is completely disingenuous. The states' delegates were barred from voting at the convention because they broke party rules. The party determined this, and none of the candidates complained about it at the time. But now that Clinton is behind, and it looks like she might lose the election, she is suddenly pushing that those delegates, who overwhelmingly voted for her because OBAMA DID NOT CAMPAIGN THERE, AND WASN'T EVEN ON THE BALLOT IN MICHIGAN, be counted. This is exactly the reason that people dislike her so much. She is a blatant opportunist, and will do whatever it takes to win, even if it is borderline cheating.

Second, this superdelegate nonsense is getting out of hand. Clinton stated recently that superdelegates should vote for whomever they want, regardless of whether that person won the popular vote. If Obama were to win the most pledged delegates and Clinton won the election with more superdelegates, we can never complain again about Gore losing in 2000. The people, not "party leaders," should elect our candidate. If more people vote for Obama, he should be our candidate. End of story.

Third, Clinton wants to debate every fricking week. I am going to paraphrase Obama here, who says "we've had 18 debates! 18!" She wants to do this because Obama has more money and debates are essentially free advertising. All of this maneuvering is exactly why Obama is gaining so much support. We are all tired of this political bullshit. That's not to say he won't be sucked into it if he becomes president, but at least he's not making an ass of himself now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thoughts on the Candidates

My 2 cents is free...

Mitt Romney. Thank god this guy won't be president. If the presidency were automatically awarded to the smarmiest, phoniest candidate, he'd be president for life. I mean, they'd have to repeal the 22nd Amendment. Is there an issue he hasn't reversed himself on to pander to the right wing? The most telling moment of the campaign, for me, was when Mike Huckabee said that President Bush had a "go-it-alone" foreign policy, and Romney went nuts. Now, saying that Bush has a "go-it-alone" foreign policy is a simple, plainly obvious, noncontroversial descriptive statement akin to "the sky is blue," that people in both parties agree with. Romney, in a transparent attempt to appeal to the GOP base, pretended that it was treason and actually demanded that Huckabee apologize to the president. It was phony and cloying and sycophantic, all rolled into one, and that about sums up Mitt Romney. And don't get me started on candidates who promise to run government "like a business": it's either stupidity or disingenuousness, and the fact that, with Romney, it's clearly the latter doesn't help him.

Mike Huckabee. How could you not like him? Maybe because he's an evangelical nutjob who doesn't believe in evolution, and whose success is based on the support of other nutjobs? Hmmm ... No, I still like him. He's just likable! Of course, if he actually became president, we'd all be in huge trouble (until the rapture comes, anyway). But, what is it about Hope, Arkansas that produces politicians that can screw you over and leave you smiling afterwards?

John McCain. He's, by far, the Republicans' best candidate this year, but that's sort of like saying that the construction worker was, by far, the most heterosexual of the Village People. For those of you who are worried that McCain is going to win the general election, let me point out a few things about him:

1. He's old.
2. Really old.
3. The two biggest issues of the election are likely to be the economy and Iraq, and he's hugely vulnerable on both.
4. Republicans' feelings about him range between dislike and loathing.
5. To unite the party, he's going to have to pick some lunatic as his running mate, a choice that I suspect just may be abnormally solvent as an issue this year (see: points 1 and 2).

HRC. Man, if you just watched TV, you'd think that nobody likes this woman. Certainly the news media are almost unanimously against her. After she lost Iowa, the major networks hit her in the head with a shovel and had her buried under three feet of dirt before she won New Hampshire, climbing out of the grave, either Lazarus-like or zombie-like, depending on your point of view, and has walked among us ever since. Now that she's teetering on the edge again, they're poised to bury her for good. Except that she's still up by 20 in Ohio. Oops.

Barack Obama. I've got to admit, I'm on this bandwagon. What a phenomenon this guy as been. He captured lightning in a bottle at the 2004 Democratic convention, and has managed to keep the lid on. People love him. It's actually trendy to volunteer for his campaign (and, talk about a generational divide, nearly everyone I know is backing him). My sister canvassed for him, and I went with her to the campaign election night party in Hollywood. Normally, political activists appear -- how can I put this gently -- sort of nerdy and weird-looking, and they're old. This group looked like the cast of, I don't know, The OC, except more diverse and less out-of-date. But he seems to really bring a lot of traditionally excluded people, young people and others, into the process. It bothers me some that he's so inexperienced, and that his church is on friendly terms with noted bigot Louis Farrakhan. But, in his brief time in office, he's been right about just about everything, and the idea that he's an anti-semite doesn't ring true. This almost feels like a campaign of destiny, but there's also an Icarus-type feel about it: What will happen if and when the news media fall out of love with him and start shining bright light on him?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Summary of Recent Sports-related Issues- or a treatise on not getting what you want

Several months ago, at the end of baseball season, I remarked on the incredible strides the Washington Nationals had made over the course of their season, ending with a record certainly not "historically bad", if not reaching "good".

Well this weekend DC's other storied sports franchise, the Washington Redskins, hired an unknown coach to take over the head coaching duties from the immortal Joe Gibbs. Gibbs resigned a month ago, leaving the owner, Mr. Daniel Synder (henceforth referred to as "The Danny," "Snyderman," or "Napoleon") without a coach. Now, Napoleon tends to get all sorts of weird personnel ideas in his head, and usually throws money at whoever he wants until the player or coach succumbs to the power of his own greed. By such processes have arrived numerous over-the-hill players (particularly quaterbacks), a horrendously awful college coach whose main motivational technique was throwing his visor, and Deion Sanders, in a category all his own.

So all expected that The Danny, when searching for a new coach, would hire as big a name as was available, regardless of whether any of the players or existing coaches wanted to play or work for him. Fortunately for all of us, the big names wanted nothing to do with the Redskins. Bill Cowher, despite certainly being offered a pile of money as huge as Snyderman's ego, claimed that he was happy working in TV and wasn't ready to return to coaching. Pete "Southern California is my Xanadu" Carroll didn't want to leave the fawning legions of USC. And Jim Mora just had too much sense. So Napoleon finally had to check his ego at the door and hire as his head coach a guy he had hired to be an assistant two weeks before.

Now to bring this post full circle, despite the fact that this wasn't what he wanted, Snyder has almost perfectly replicated the circumstances that allowed the Nationals to exceed all expectations last year. The Nats decided that instead of going out and getting someone flashy, they would find a young, smart baseball man that the team could build an identity around. Coincidentally, that man, Manny Acta, also happened to be a great teacher with an ability to connect with his players. Jim Zorn, the new Skins coach, fits that same model.

The Nats did it intentionally, and the Skins as a last resort, but maybe The Danny has learned something from not getting what he wanted. Of course, nobody knows how Coach Zorn will eventually perform, but if the example of the Nationals is any indication, good times for the Skins may still be ahead.